Updated: Nov 14, 2018
As a professional photographer, I cannot count the times I have lost a job because a friend of the client had a camera and offered to do the job for free. This inevitably ends up in failure and leaves the client disappointed. Though I try my best to educate and explain my case, usually one of their higher-ups does not recognize the importance of hiring a professional photographer. In fact, this just happened to me and sure enough I received a phone call the following month asking to hire me again with an explanation on how they will never have a friend shoot for free again.
Many clients don't know what to expect from a photographer, especially if they have never hired one before. Their expectations may be that you just point and shoot a picture and everything comes out perfect. Not so! To take good pictures you have to expose and compose properly. After the fact you have to edit and organize, retouch and color correct. And finally you have to batch, export and transfer. I don't think a friend is going to want to go over every picture with the attention to detail necessary for a professional and publishable photograph for free. So hire a professional, we provide a service so you don't have to worry about getting the SHOT!
Paying for experience
In any creative field you are paying for experience not time. The reason we cost $200 an hour is not because we are at your event for only two hours, it's because we have spent countless hours honing our craft. We are professionals, which means we invested a lot of time and money. I have spent thousands of dollars and hours taking photography classes and editing classes. We not only have to master our camera but we have to master lighting and Photoshop. We also invest a lot of time in researching gear and equipment. Remember, we are payed for 10 years of experience not for 2 hours of work.
Many times clients only see a photographer for a couple hours at a time and think that is all we work, when actually they don't see the preparation or the finessing we do to the images. And if you are professional, you want to make that process as seamless and invisible as possible. You know what? You should even charge more for that and here is why: It takes a lot of work to make your craft seem easy! Before every shoot I plan and test my gear. I get ready and show up an hour early to every shoot. When I am done I spend hours uploading pictures to the computer and to my editing program. Then I go through every photo and flag the ones to keep. After that I correct the color and contrast and fix any glaring mistakes in the photos. This process is especially important when you shoot RAW because every photo comes out muddy and flat.
Every professional should have backups... at least two cameras two lenses, two flashes in case of emergency. As a professional, we should not let a shoot suffer because of a dead battery or flash or shutter... and this COSTS MONEY! I paid over $2500 for each one of my camera bodies - that is just the body. I spent just as much on the lenses and I have to clean, fix and replace these regularly. That is no small change and prices of a professional reflect that. Also, I have to pay over $100 a month for my software, website and hosting. And the reason we do this is so that I can confidently provide a service and piece of mind!
So next time you are questioning whether to hire a photographer or go the Apple iPhone route remember that what you are primarily paying for is the guarantee and your own piece of mind that the job will get done. And that my friend, is priceless!